Hinduism – perhaps the oldest religion in the world – can be confusing to Westerners used to neat, somewhat straight forward religious principles. Hinduism beliefs can encompass a great amount of differing opinions. Here, then, we give you perhaps the top 15 Hindu beliefs that may be of interest in understanding this religion.
1. The Meaning of Life
Unlike Westerners, many Hindus believe in not one meaning or purpose in life, but many. These correspond to different stages in one’s life. You should (1) fulfill your purpose – or what you were put on this world to achieve. (2) You should reach personal prosperity in the worldly arena. (3) You should have enjoyment, and fulfil your sexual and other desires, and (4), you should reach enlightenment, or ‘Moksha’.
This four purposes of life successfully balances human and spiritual needs, and is thus a less dogmatic religion than many others.
Hindus generally believe that everything is subject to law and effect – everything you think, say or do has an effect. Hence, your future (for good or ill) will be dependent on these things.
3. All Life is Sacred
As all of life is created by God, all life is sacred. You should not harm any creature – and particularly ‘Holy’ animals, such as cows, which represent the selfless love of God to its people. Indeed, one should not even think or speak badly towards others, due to karma.
This is one of the reasons one of the most famous Hindus, Mahhatma (great soul) Ghandi, practiced nonviolence to overthrow British rule in India – it was born of both of religious and logical reasons.
Hindus believe that after death the soul is reincarnated, according to our past good or bad karma. Humans can become animals, and vice versa. Indeed – the whole universe is in a constant cycle of change and regeneration.
Because this cycle is endless, all souls will eventually ‘burn out’ their bad karma, and reach salvation, or ‘moksha’.
8. Cremation and Holy Rivers
9. Bathing and Purification
10. You Can’t Become a Hindu! But…
Traditionally you cannot ‘become’ a Hindu – you are born into it only. However this has not prevented many westerners calling themselves Hindus.
This article is being updated to reflect “the most important Hinduism beliefs, in the clearest everyday language. Clear, intelligent and helpful information to assist everyone’s understanding of …” what Hinduism is, how it compares to other religions, and how you can incorporate it into your life.
Where possible we quote from people’s favorite Hindu books, with links to them if you would like them for yourself.
Still to come:
Which God? One God? Many? (Polyethism).
You can read more – come back soon